Aging and caregiving in India - Mohan's views from 2017-18

A while ago, my wife and I decided to move back to India to care for my aging parents. These blogs contain my continuing musings on the topic of contemporary elder care in India.

  • Life lessons on relocating to India: Six lessons from a six year old - About a year ago, I was at the crossroads, wondering about work-life decision I had to take. My dad, who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer a while ago was starting to gradually slow down. My aging parents lived alone in Bangalore, and I got the dreaded phone call from my mother on the verge of breakdown herself, asking for help. 

  • Reflections on palliative care in India: a long goodbye - Those who read the papers regularly will notice two kinds of obituary messages. “Mrs. So-and-so passed away peacefully in his sleep. She was 82, and is survived by ….” or “Mr. ABC succumbed to Cancer after bravely battling it for over 6 months. He was 79 and is survived by....” If a detailed article is written after the passing of the latter, it may eulogize their life, and make a brief mention of “the brave battle with cancer” and that they were hospitalized for months. Such an article may or may not make a mention of the “brave battle” the family and caregivers undertake.

  • Caregiving for elders and senior citizen in India - Observations and trends  - A generation or two ago, it was quite common for joint families – three or even four – generations to live together. One would frequently come across middle class families with grandparents living with uncles, aunts, cousins and siblings with their kids. In many cases, the families would live in a large house, under one roof or in a compound with conjoint units. The newer generation of elders, caught between rapid urbanization and prevalence of nuclear families is realizing that they need to be more involved in planning for their own sunset years and many not have the social support previous generations enjoyed. However, without an advanced network of providers catering to needs of seniors, those who can, still fall back on their families. It still takes a village to care for an elder; though an increasingly affluent middle-class has to pay for the village!

  • A review of cottage industry around ‘elder care’ in India - Caregiving for the elderly requires a person with empathy who can manage - and sometimes challenge - the whimsical needs of frail elders. They also need the physical and emotional resilience to manage highly stressful situations; and sometimes pushback doting family members who might have their own demands.

  • Adult diapers in India: Emerging business to meet a growing demand - With an aging population of an affluent middle-class, demand for this practical aid for adults  will continue to grow India. While senior-citizen are the primary consumers of adult-diaper, most of the shopping and research is done by the middle-generation (like self) or even tech savvy youngsters stepping in to help grandparents.

  • In Modern India, it takes a village … to care for an elder - A generation or two ago, it was quite common for joint families – three or even four– generations to live together. One would frequently come across middle class families with grandparents living with uncles, aunts, cousins and siblings with their kids. In many cases, the families would live in a large house, under one roof or in a compound with conjoint units. Topics reviewed include: 
    • Emergence of old-age care in India  
    • Cottage industry around Senior care in India

  • Indian Military Hospitals - Not your dad’s Army hospital - One of the most remarkable benefits available to Indian defense force personnel and their families is access to universal healthcare via Military hospital system. Growing up as an Air Force officer’s son, I had on occasion visited the local clinics “MI rooms” and Military Hospitals (MH). The service personnel gamely accepted the few standardized services and preventative medication provided as a part of the system. Running jokes included the use of paracetamol for all ailments, and my earliest memory is the distinct odor of tincture of iodine that would permeate most of the clinics and MH’s. After entering adulthood, I was no longer eligible for the family medical benefits. The MH system faded from memory as I migrated to live in Europe, Canada and the US.


  • Life certificate saga: Digital India fails Veterans and senior citizen? - During November most Central government retirees and pensioners in India need to submit a ‘life certificate.’ This enables them to continue receiving their pension without interruption. In most cases, the process is rather simple: one just walks into the local bank, meets the manager or assistant manager and signs the form and hands it off. This ‘simple’ process can become a challenging paper chasing exercise for the unfortunate pensioner who is bedridden or unable to move out of home. Take the case of my father, a retired Indian Air Force officer who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Plus syndrome, a neural disease that gradually impairs motor skills. In previous years, he used to walk down to the local SBI branch near our house from where he draws his pension and sign the papers in person. This year, due to the progressive degeneration of his condition, he is unable to move out of home unassisted, and is unable to use his wrists to write or sign papers